Victim Assistance Program

The Victim Assistance Program (VAP or the Program) within the State’s Office of Victim Services itself is often the first point of contact for victims seeking information, compensation, advocacy and emotional support related to their new and unwanted status as victims of crime.  Advocates can immediately draw upon the resources of OVS for the purpose of delivering direct services, including referrals to all appropriate resources throughout New York, particularly other OVS funded victim assistance programs and the established network of crime victim service providers, compensation claims assistance (including emergency OVS compensation claims assistance), information, personal advocacy and follow-up contact through in person contact, telephone, mail, and e-mail. Victims of crimes that occurred in New York, who now reside outside the state, may also contact the Program.

A significant direct service provided by the Program is obtaining monetary emergency awards from OVS for eligible claimants, who do not yet have an active claim with the OVS. Emergency awards may be given for burial expenses, loss of support, loss of earnings, medical expenses (including HIV Prophylaxis), etc. to claimants who show that they will suffer undue financial hardship if they do not receive immediate assistance.

Another significant component of the Program is the referral by OVS to the Program of all compensation claim applications that are incomplete (and therefore cannot be processed by OVS) and were submitted by victims who were not assisted by another OVS funded victim advocacy program. The Program will contact the victim (or other source) to obtain missing information and resubmit the claim. The Program generally assists victims in filing claims to the OVS and explaining OVS policies and procedures.

The Program collaborates with crime victim services programs and cooperates with all criminal justice agencies, OVS funded programs and other appropriate resources for the purpose of maximizing services and support to victims and avoiding duplication of services.  Upon initial contact with the victim, inquiry is made as to whether the victim has been in contact with or assisted by other agencies or OVS funded programs.  If so, we contact the program, if appropriate.  If the victim has not been assisted by a program or needs a different direct service from us, we will assist the victim and/or provide appropriate referrals to OVS funded victim advocacy programs (or programs within the established network of crime victim services), criminal justice agencies, social service agencies, health care providers, support groups, emergency shelters, etc.

The Program also provides personal advocacy on behalf of victims, as appropriate and as requested, with health care providers, criminal justice agencies (prosecutors, police, probation, parole), landlords, financial institutions, utility companies, etc.

Contact OVS:

Lunida Gresham (Advocate/Social Worker in Albany office) – 518 485 9104

Kiesha Maxwell (Victim Advocate in Brooklyn office) – 718 923 4366

Brian Stearns (Victim Advocate in Buffalo office) – 716 847 7996